Gaining from Co-opetition
I’ve been told I am a very competitive person. At least I used to be. Like when I was skating in the roller derby. Or, racing my best friend on our bikes on a 200 mile ride through Wisconsin. Or, when I was vying to be the number one salesperson at most jobs I had.
Then I went and had kids and started my own business...things began to look very different to me. I still face a lot of competition for the services that I offer; there are a lot of bloggers, coaches and marketing consultants out there. But it’s how I view my competition and how I approach it that has totally changed my life and my outlook.
Competition is good for us. It keeps us honest. It makes us work harder. At least that’s what it SHOULD do. But it can also bring out the worst in us sometimes.
For example, it is a KNOWN axiom that you should never bad mouth your competition. But I’m willing to bet there are those of you out there who just can’t resist and find yourself doing some trash talking now and again. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.
I used to take this concept one step further. I just never said the competition’s name out loud. When a client would mention another company’s name, I would smile and nod and change the subject, unless of course the client was asking me a direct question. Or, I would ask what the person liked about doing business with that company, what it could be doing better and, my favorite question, “When is the last time they brought you a new idea?”
What if we went even further? What if we treated our competition like friends? What if we actually used them as a network, a resource and a shoulder to cry on?
What this thinking really stems from is the ability to view the world as a place of abundance, where there is enough work to go around. It may not feel like it to you at times, but I promise you, if you shift your thinking away from scarcity and stop being threatened by your competition, things will change for you.
Cooperation combined with competition equals co-opetition. I did not invent this word. I have heard it used for several years now.
Here’s an example. Years ago, I worked for a small digital shop in downtown Chicago. There was a much bigger shop right around the corner. Sure, we shared some services, so in fact we were competition. But, we also helped each other out; if one of us ran out of paper or ink, we would share. And I used to meet the head of sales of that shop on the corner each morning, and we would commiserate about the old days—how great things used to be—and how hard it was now. It was comforting to know they were there; sharing the same experiences and willing to lend a hand if we needed, and vice versa.
So how about this...See if you can find some competitors that you can make your co-opetition. You might gain a friend, a resource, and you just might learn something.